Experimental laser-driven proton acceleration and related beam diagnostics at ilil

The experiment aims at optimizing the laser-target interaction for the acceleration of protons, via the Target Normal Sheath Acceleration (TNSA) mechanism, using the 10TW laser system currently available at the ILIL laboratory. Although the maximum proton energy achievable is currently limited to a few MeV by the maximum intensity available with the current laser system, the available proton beams can be used to test beam diagnostics developed on purpose for the detection and study of the main figures of the ultrashort (~ps duration) and highly diverging laser-driven proton beams. These studies are performed in collaboration with different INFN groups (Milano, Bologna, LNS). Fundamental physical issues underlying the TNSA mechanism, such as, for instance, the propagation of the fast electrons into the target and the optical emission at the rear of the target, are also studied. The activity also involves the simulation of the entire process by means of hydrodynamic and Particle-In-Cell codes.